Crucial services to families of special needs children and adults could be decimated by coronavirus.

Day services could close indefinitely as part of the response to coronavirus.

Crucial services to families of special needs children and adults could be decimated by coronavirus.

The coronavirus is threatening to decimate the services for families of children and adults with special needs. Image by Juraj Varga from Pixabay

Swansea Council announced on Thursday (19 March) that it was closing all day centres.

Schools, colleges and nurseries closed

The move follows the announcement that schools, colleges and nurseries are to close indefinitely.

Alison Pike is a Mencap director. She said “many services are, understandably, having to close, or have found attendance is decreasing”.

Caroline Stevens is the chief executive of the National Autistic Society.

She said where they are concerned about infection, or safety and quality are at risk because of staffing levels, decisions to “suspend services” would be made on a “case-by-case basis”.

Special schools can remain open

However, special schools can remain open. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said vulnerable children and those of key NHS workers can still attend school.

Education secretary Gavin Williamson said he would encourage settings to look after key “vulnerable children throughout the Easter holidays”.

But questions remain about how special schools can maintain adequate staffing levels. Many teachers will need time off because their own children will be off school.

In addition, in some areas all special schools have made a decision to close. 

All special schools in Belfast will close on Monday (23 March). And Cumbria Council has announced all its special schools will close after staff self-isolation meant staffing levels were “dropping below safe levels”.

Some special needs children ‘at risk’

Some parents were against keeping special schools open, especially those whose children have underlying health conditions.

Ayshah Tull is a Mencap ambassador and Channel 4 news presenter. On Twitter she said special needs children with conditions such as epilepsy, asthma and respiratory problems were at risk from coronavirus.


Published: 22 March 2020


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